Calls for open discussions over Steeple site scheme
LOCAL councillors have been debating how the Steeple site should be developed but there have been calls to keep the discussion transparent and not behind closed doors.
The old Steeple House site was discussed in confidence at last month’s Resources Committee Meeting, local MLA Trevor Clarke raised the issue at last Thursday’s full council meeting and asked why it had to be discussed in private and without members of the press.
He said: “The discussion around the Steeple site, why is this in confidence? Many people around Antrim want an update.”
Antrim Chief Executive David McCammick said: “There are sensitivities around legal and financial issues until the council makes its mind up. Clearly there are issues yet to come and all that’s decided, is what we are going to do.”
It was revealed at the meeting that there has been an application for semi-detached properties for that area,
Mr Clarke warned that if this site, located behind the Antrim Civic Centre, is used as a housing estate then the Council building would become land locked.
Clarke said: “I would not support land locking this site. We need to do what’s best for the people of Antrim. What we are agreeing to today is a housing estate in our back garden.”
Former Mayor, Councillor Adrian Watson told members that he was annoyed that despite debating this issue for six years, it has not been resolved. He also told members that he could not believe that it has been suggested to bring in outside consultants.
He said: “I am very disappointed that the site is still sitting after six years. We really need to get things moving, I’m amazed that after six years we are still at this stage.
“We would be better going to somebody that can do something with it, the people of Antrim are not getting the legacy project they deserve.”
Mr Clarke was also not in favour of bringing in consultants, he added: “We are going to spend all this money (on consultants) and then take it into the public domain. I think we should be transparent on this issue.
“The general public-who put most of us into this chamber- might not be happy with the ideas so it shouldn’t be done behind closed doors and we shouldn’t be paying consultants.”
Watson replied: “I’m not in favour of mass housing, there are other options like sheltered housing for pensioners. We don’t want this dragging on for 12 months.
“Any interest has to have the best interests of the people of Antrim, the benefits should be for this town. We need to make a very quick decision on this we have had six years to do this and we can do it in four- six months.”
The proposed ideas for the site also suggested the possibility of knocking down the old Steeple gate lodge.
Clarke added: “It is now apparent we are going to knock down the gate lodge? Why are we doing that to facilitate the building of houses.
Alderman Mervyn Rea explained that the gate lodge is not a listed building, “if it was then it could not be demolished,” he said.
Alliance Councillor Alan Lawther said that all options for the Steeple site should be looked at, not just housing.
The proposal will be discussed further at next month’s resources committee meeting.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Antrim
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South west
Temperature: 12 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South east